The Way I See It parents guide

The Way I See It Parent Guide

At its heart, this documentary is a meditation on photography, history, and the power of the Presidency.

Overall A-

Digital on Demand: Pete Souza, official White House photographer to Presidents Reagan and Obama, becomes a social media star after rebutting President Trump's tweets.

Release date October 30, 2020

Violence B+
Sexual Content A
Profanity B
Substance Use B

Why is The Way I See It rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Way I See It PG-13 for brief strong language

Run Time: 100 minutes

Parent Movie Review

How does a man with no real interest in politics become a social media star, a public speaker and a guest on TV talk shows? Why does he go from simply taking pictures to using them to troll the President of the United States?

Answers to these questions are found in The Way I See It, a documentary about Pete Souza, former Chief Official White House Photographer for President Barack Obama and official photographer for President Ronald Reagan. The son of immigrants from the Azores, Souza never expected to become a political photographer until he was invited to work at the Reagan White House. He photographed President Reagan for six years before resuming his freelance career and then joining the Obama White House in 2008.

Souza’s goal as presidential photographer was both simple and expansive. He says: “I look at myself as a historian with a camera. The job is to visually document the presidency for history…. My goal was to create the best photographic archive of a president that had ever been done. To create lasting images for history.” The breadth and depth of Souza’s photographic legacy cannot be denied and social media has spread those images faster and further than any president’s pictures have ever traveled.

With the end of Obama’s term, Souza planned to fade back into anonymity…until President Trump began tweeting. Souza started posting photographic rebuttals to the President’s tweets and a social media star was born. In quick succession came a book, a speaking tour, and this documentary. However, The Way I See It is more than it seems on the surface. Although it’s full of wonderful photos, it’s not just a photo flick. And even though it contains some mild criticism of the Trump administration, it’s certainly not an anti-Trump rant. At its heart, this documentary is a meditation on photography, history, and the power of the Presidency.

Souza reminds us that “Journalism is the first draft of history” and this film shows us the rough cuts; the intimate moments that don’t make it onto the TV news. Looking at those photos forces us to ask ourselves how we construct our images of sitting presidents; how we think we can possibly know them as well as we think we do. They challenge our perceptions and push us to think more deeply and research more broadly.

The film also raises the issue of the Presidency – its awesome power, its unparalleled influence, and its crushing responsibilities. It asks viewers what we expect of the President of the United States and what kind of responsibility voters have to elect the person they believe will best fill that office.

This documentary comes with minimal concerns and is a great way to encourage teens to think about history, politics, and the Presidency. With Souza’s bipartisan background, it can hopefully help Americans rediscover a shared middle ground from which to reflect on the highest office in the land.

Directed by Dawn Porter. Starring Pete Souza. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release October 30, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Way I See It

The Way I See It
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Way I See It rated PG-13? The Way I See It is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for brief strong language

Violence: Photos of demonstrations. Video and photo clips of national disasters. Photos of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. Mention of deaths and injuries in a military context. Mention of the deaths of terror suspects. Mention of the Sandy Hook school shooting and the deaths of children – 911 call excerpts included. There is mention of the church shooting in Charleston.
Sexual Content: There is mention of the Supreme Court ruling that upheld same sex marriage. Photos are seen with a husband and wife embracing.
Profanity: There are approximately eight swear words, including terms of deity, anatomical words, and minor curse words. There is one scatological term.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are a few scenes of minor social drinking in the background.

Page last updated

The Way I See It Parents' Guide

Pete Souza goes from being apolitical to becoming very political indeed. What changes his opinions and behavior? Have you ever changed your opinions on a political issue? Has an issue ever motivated you to become politically active? Why?

For more about Pete Souza’s presidential photographs, you can follow these links.

The Atlantic: The Obama Years, Through the Lens of White House Photographer Pete Souza

Pete Souza: President Reagan


Loved this movie? Try these books…

Pete Souza has published several volumes of presidential photos, beginning with Images of Greatness: An Intimate Look at the Presidency of Ronald Reagan and Unguarded Moments. He has also published Obama: An Intimate Portrait and The Rise of Barack Obama. For young readers, Souza gathered his most inspirational photos to create Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Presidency.

Souza’s responses to President Trump’s tweets have been published in Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of The Way I See It movie is September 18, 2020. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

The Obama family is back in front of the camera in Becoming, a documentary about Michelle Obama’s activities after her husband’s presidency.

The Bush and Obama administrations both receive rough treatment in The Report, a historical movie about the Senate’s investigation into the use of torture by the CIA.

Donald Trump’s administration gets called on the carpet in two documentaries – Totally Under Control and Fahrenheit 11/9.

Fictional stories also feature photographers. In Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window, a photographer with a broken leg spends his time watching his neighbors, only to become convinced that one of them has murdered his wife. A couple discover that their honeymoon photos also captured ghostly images in Shutter.